At issue is a proposed $25 fee vehicle owners would have to pay for new plates

Ontario County Clerk Matt Hoose joined local lawmakers Wednesday to announce legislation that would prevent a proposed $25 fee on new license plates. State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, sponsored the bill the lawmakers pushed at a press conference held outside the county clerk’s office in Canandaigua.

“This proposal by the governor is a blatant money grab,” said Ortt, who recently announced his candidacy for the 27th Congressional District, the seat held by Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence.

“If the state requires specific plates for electronic tolling purposes, then the state should be providing renewed plates free of charge,” said Ortt.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that all license plates more than 10 years old — like the traditional blue and white versions, as well as the more current gold plates — must be replaced. As vehicle owners renew their registrations, owners with license plates 10 years old or older will be issued new plates for a $25 fee. That fee is the maximum allowed under state Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Cuomo says the current plates may not be easily readable by E-Z Pass and future cashless tolling systems. The public is invited to vote on new plate designs through Sept. 2, with the design with the most votes coming available on April 1.

“This is a cheap, shameless money grab that does nothing but harass New York taxpayers ever more. I stand firmly against this proposal and commend Sen. Ortt for taking on this outrageous proposal in the Senate,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua.

The governor’s proposed fee just means “another bill, another law and another cost to our people,” said Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, R-Lyons.

Hoose also spoke out against the fee, saying he thinks it’s unnecessary.

The $25 fee would be in addition to registration renewal costs. Drivers who want to keep their license plate number will also be forced to pay an extra $20 under the governor’s proposal.

“The fact that New York State would charge $25 to $45 for a product that costs no more than $2 to make, illustrates that this is less about ensuring motorists pay their tolls and more about creating a $350 million windfall for the state’s coffers,” said Ortt. “It’s unacceptable, and the residents of this state are smart enough to recognize a scam when they see one.”

Hoose and the lawmakers said they hadn’t heard from law enforcement or anyone else about the need for the new plates. Kolb, Ortt and Manktelow urged people to contact their elected officials about opposing the fee and supporting the legislation to block it (S6663). Ortt and Kolb said they believe there will be enough bipartisan support to prevent the $25 fee.

The matter would be taken up during the next legislative session and state budget to be voted on by April 1, 2020.